White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown Records)

Southern fired rockers regain their muse on album number six

Released Oct 29th, 2013 via Downtown Records / By Al Judkins
White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown Records) As band’s beards continue to grow, the impending tendency of inheriting more dad-rock genes poses a threat. Groups like Maps & Atlases, Band of Horses and countless more have suffered this defect, although White Denim have always had that element in their repertoire present to some degree. Not that that’s an off-putting thing by any means, while their ever-inventive spark is aided by a kinetic surge of youth and freedom, it's still relevant to don your best Jagger impression to most of their music.

One thing that instantly jumps out about Corsicana Lemonade is the sheer amount of fun they had making it. Produced by the humorous Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame, and apparently recorded live after only a handful of takes per tune, the happiness and sparkle of playing in a band together really cuts through on this record.

A little less like the long-awaited difficulties of D released in 2011 and more similar to the ‘weekend jaunt’ of Last Day Of Summer, which they released not too long before as the timeframe of D's fabrication was continually stretching. This outing is glazed in good times, delivered with a cheeky smile, and sweet in substance, like you would expect the drink itself to be should you ever come across it.

The first two cuts, ‘At Night In Dreams’ and the title track boast imaginatively crafted rhythms and southern fried guitar musings (some even reminiscent of Thin Lizzy style meddling, and why not?) complete with a healthy dose of testosterone. All tracks pass the palatable test and most are within the 3:30 mark, and face-melting moments in particular are the luscious double guitar breakdown of ‘New Blue Feeling’ and the pulse-changing riff/chorus arrangement of ‘Come Back’.

After laying ears upon this beaut of an LP, any fan can see that the ‘Denim have notably matured, especially over the last five years since the slutty, ball-grabbing vigour of 2008’s Workout Holiday. No longer a garage band, but perhaps they weren’t properly in that category even then. Their body of work on that record was a mix-up of their ideas, from gritty riffs to glittery experimental loops. It’s absolutely great to see them a) still have this large degree of musical exploration in a more coherent and controlled product and b) still not sell out.

If there are one or two criticisms of Corsicana... one is the fact that another tune or two wouldn’t have gone amiss, and another being the petering out of their signature chop-up style rhythms in the last few songs. What makes a band legendary is the individual characteristics each member brings to the table, which seemingly wanes towards the end. However, singer and songwriter James Petralli shines throughout. 'Distant Relative Salute’ springs to mind the wonder vocals of the classic singalong ‘Sitting’, and comes through as the most poignant earworm after the first listen.

‘If It Feels Good’ meanwhile has a chorus you just can’t argue with, no matter how strokeable your beard gets. As the lyrics go; ‘If it feels good / let it feel good’, which to them translates as ‘Hey, there’s nothing wrong with playing heartfelt classic rock and country music as long as you feel it’. Fair enough, you may as well make peace with your influences whether guilty pleasures or not. It’s the passion and enjoyment that’s important needless of style, and for that reason it communicates well to the audience.

In the times of the now, copious acts old and new are driven by labels and press to meet ratings and statistics, when the important values of depth in music are treated with contempt in comparison to the reputation before it has been righteously earned. This can happen to any band at any point in their career, so to hear something like this is simply a positive breath of fresh air among an age of incalculable inauthentic guff that we strive to sift through.

Albeit a trifle late in the year to match the ideal weather to accompany it but Corsicana Lemonade is perfect sun-drenched American road music, augmented by Petralli’s unique seductive vocal twang. Well, that said about the weather, chances are that it’s probably still warm enough where they’re touring at the moment in California, with Tame Impala and Flaming Lips... gits.